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Thread: Low compliance stereo cartridges ... am I missing any?

  1. #1
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 2,923
    I'm Tom.

    Default Low compliance stereo cartridges ... am I missing any?

    As many here know I'm a fan of low compliance cartridges, both stereo and mono - something I'd define as under 10-12 m/mN at 10hz.

    For me that's generally meant (looking below I own or have owned examples of all of these):

    Moving coil:
    - SPU (stereo almost all around 8-10, a shade lower on average for mono)
    - Miyajima (9-10 for stereo, 8 for mono)
    - Koetsu (like the Denon, most are rated around 5 at 100hz, which probably equates to more like 11 at 10hz)
    - Ikeda (around 6)
    - Denon DL103 (rated 5 at 100hz, which probably equates to more like 11 at 10hz - this for the standard one, other variants can be higher though I'm not aware of any that are lower)

    **Almost** high compliance
    - Audio Note Io (horizontal 15, vertical 10)

    Moving magnet:
    - Shure M3D (around 4!)
    - Shure SC36C (around 5 - this is a cartridge that really sings in a heavy arm and headshell, way way above its price point)
    - B&O SP1 (5) - this has all the combined delicacy and oomph of an early SPU.
    - Denon DL107 (9 - though rated at 100hz, which probably takes it out of strict low compliance territory at 10hz)

    No coincidence that these low compliance cartridges are generally from the very early days of stereo (notably the SPU), or in the case of the Miyajimas and the Audio Note are modelled on the SPU.

    So what models am I missing? - obviously there are many vintage mono models, but what should I be checking out in stereo that I haven't checked out yet? All my arms are high mass, I have a good collection of 20g headshells, all perfect for good low compliance cartridges.

    Anyone have any suggestions of what should I be looking at to satisfy curiosity?
    Main: Speakers 'RFC' Tannoy Canterburys / custom crossovers; Amp - Radford STA100; Pre EAR 912; Vinyl: Thorens TD124 MkII + Ikeda IT345-CR1 / Ikeda IT-407 tonearms; Cartridges Stereo - Miyajima Madake, Ortofon SPU Royal N, Ikeda 9C III, SAEC/Excel C3; Mono - Miyajimas - Zero 0.7, Premium 1.0, Sonovox MC-4 1.0, Edison '78' 4.0 conical, and Shure M44 strapped for mono with several Expert Stylus conicals for different eras of 78s; Phono stage and SUT from EAR 912; Esoteric Sound Re-Equalizer for equalisation of early mono and 78, switchable in from tape loop; Digital: Audio Note CDT2/II transport, heavily modded AN Kit DAC + Mutec MC3+USB.

    Study: Speakers - Tannoy DC6; Amp: Pass Aleph 'Mini'; preamp - Firebottle custom; Vinyl: Garrard 401 with AT1503 tonearm and vintage Ortofon SL-15e with matching Ortofon 2-15k SUT; Phono Stage: Firebottle Plus; Digital - Trichord Genesis III CDP + Arcam rBlink; Schiit Multibit DAC.

  2. #2
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: London

    Posts: 315
    I'm james.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by montesquieu View Post
    As many here know I'm a fan of low compliance cartridges, both stereo and mono - something I'd define as under 10-12 m/mN at 10hz.

    For me that's generally meant (looking below I own or have owned examples of all of these):

    Moving coil:
    - SPU (stereo almost all around 8-10, a shade lower on average for mono)
    - Miyajima (9-10 for stereo, 8 for mono)
    - Koetsu (like the Denon, most are rated around 5 at 100hz, which probably equates to more like 11 at 10hz)
    - Ikeda (around 6)
    - Denon DL103 (rated 5 at 100hz, which probably equates to more like 11 at 10hz - this for the standard one, other variants can be higher though I'm not aware of any that are lower)

    **Almost** high compliance
    - Audio Note Io (horizontal 15, vertical 10)

    Moving magnet:
    - Shure M3D (around 4!)
    - Shure SC36C (around 5 - this is a cartridge that really sings in a heavy arm and headshell, way way above its price point)
    - B&O SP1 (5) - this has all the combined delicacy and oomph of an early SPU.
    - Denon DL107 (9 - though rated at 100hz, which probably takes it out of strict low compliance territory at 10hz)

    No coincidence that these low compliance cartridges are generally from the very early days of stereo (notably the SPU), or in the case of the Miyajimas and the Audio Note are modelled on the SPU.

    So what models am I missing? - obviously there are many vintage mono models, but what should I be checking out in stereo that I haven't checked out yet? All my arms are high mass, I have a good collection of 20g headshells, all perfect for good low compliance cartridges.

    Anyone have any suggestions of what should I be looking at to satisfy curiosity?
    You seem to be in the zone for a VRII but no doubt you've tried one (or a variant) ?

    PS. What is the commonality between SPU and Io cartridges that you mention, apart from their sounding good?

    Sent from my GT-I9195 using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 2,923
    I'm Tom.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jazid View Post
    You seem to be in the zone for a VRII but no doubt you've tried one (or a variant) ?

    PS. What is the commonality between SPU and Io cartridges that you mention, apart from their sounding good?

    Sent from my GT-I9195 using Tapatalk
    I have a GE VRII (forgot to mention that) but have struggled to find a really good stylus for it. I drilled a hole in a headshell so I can use the turnover. Ideally I'd like a good 0.7 and 1.0 ... any ideas where to source would be great! (It's mono of course, my focus here is really on stereo options - I'm pretty well sorted for mono!)

    As I understand it, the Io came out of Hiroyasu Kondo's experiments in rebuilding SPUs (so I recall reading anyway though the references to that are lost in the mists). There are some design similarities not least the powerful magnets, low turn/low impedance coils, low compliance and short cantilever, though I don't really know enough about the detail of cartridge design to go any deeper than that. The Io is certainly truer to early MC cartridge design than lots of stuff that came both in between and later. (The SPU was one of the first if not THE first Moving Coil stereo cartridge).

    The Io is a conundrum for me, I had an Io2 for several years (an original Io-J rebuilt at AN-UK to Io2 spec), and enjoyed it, especially with the Kondo-era AN-S6 SUT I had at the time. Its performance was faultless and fantastically capable in terms of tracking and detail and overall balance. But it lacked an emotional element that I never got to grips with even over a fairly long period. My Damascus moment was the arrival of a Miyajima Waza, which though flawed in comparison in hifi terms had more emotion coming through. This set me off on my current path. Though if I had the dosh I'd love to add an Io to the stable just for the contrast.
    Main: Speakers 'RFC' Tannoy Canterburys / custom crossovers; Amp - Radford STA100; Pre EAR 912; Vinyl: Thorens TD124 MkII + Ikeda IT345-CR1 / Ikeda IT-407 tonearms; Cartridges Stereo - Miyajima Madake, Ortofon SPU Royal N, Ikeda 9C III, SAEC/Excel C3; Mono - Miyajimas - Zero 0.7, Premium 1.0, Sonovox MC-4 1.0, Edison '78' 4.0 conical, and Shure M44 strapped for mono with several Expert Stylus conicals for different eras of 78s; Phono stage and SUT from EAR 912; Esoteric Sound Re-Equalizer for equalisation of early mono and 78, switchable in from tape loop; Digital: Audio Note CDT2/II transport, heavily modded AN Kit DAC + Mutec MC3+USB.

    Study: Speakers - Tannoy DC6; Amp: Pass Aleph 'Mini'; preamp - Firebottle custom; Vinyl: Garrard 401 with AT1503 tonearm and vintage Ortofon SL-15e with matching Ortofon 2-15k SUT; Phono Stage: Firebottle Plus; Digital - Trichord Genesis III CDP + Arcam rBlink; Schiit Multibit DAC.

  4. #4
    Join Date: Aug 2013

    Location: Isle of Wight, UK

    Posts: 35
    I'm David.

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    You've mentioned the Ikea cartridges but not the earlier Fidelity Research ones. From memory I think the FR-7 series and the MC-702 are low compliance. Perhaps some of the others are as well but it's hard to get good information on them now.

    David Whistance

  5. #5
    Join Date: Feb 2010

    Location: Berkshire, UK

    Posts: 2,923
    I'm Tom.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dwhistance View Post
    You've mentioned the Ikea cartridges but not the earlier Fidelity Research ones. From memory I think the FR-7 series and the MC-702 are low compliance. Perhaps some of the others are as well but it's hard to get good information on them now.

    David Whistance
    Interesting, I have had the FR-1, Mk1 and Mk3 at different times but found them a bit lacklustre. Never had the FR-7 or MC-702. Will look into them.
    Main: Speakers 'RFC' Tannoy Canterburys / custom crossovers; Amp - Radford STA100; Pre EAR 912; Vinyl: Thorens TD124 MkII + Ikeda IT345-CR1 / Ikeda IT-407 tonearms; Cartridges Stereo - Miyajima Madake, Ortofon SPU Royal N, Ikeda 9C III, SAEC/Excel C3; Mono - Miyajimas - Zero 0.7, Premium 1.0, Sonovox MC-4 1.0, Edison '78' 4.0 conical, and Shure M44 strapped for mono with several Expert Stylus conicals for different eras of 78s; Phono stage and SUT from EAR 912; Esoteric Sound Re-Equalizer for equalisation of early mono and 78, switchable in from tape loop; Digital: Audio Note CDT2/II transport, heavily modded AN Kit DAC + Mutec MC3+USB.

    Study: Speakers - Tannoy DC6; Amp: Pass Aleph 'Mini'; preamp - Firebottle custom; Vinyl: Garrard 401 with AT1503 tonearm and vintage Ortofon SL-15e with matching Ortofon 2-15k SUT; Phono Stage: Firebottle Plus; Digital - Trichord Genesis III CDP + Arcam rBlink; Schiit Multibit DAC.

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